Former KU Track Star Bob Smith Dies at 79
Dec. 30, 2011
Obituary for Bob Smith
Robert L. “Bob” Smith, 79, of Leawood, KS passed away December 22, 2011. Born September 24, 1932, he was a lifelong resident of the Kansas City Area, except for his early childhood and early teen years in Southern California. After the death of his parents, he left California and came to Kansas City to live with his sister.
He attended Wyandotte High School where he earned seven varsity letters, three in football and four in track & field. In track, he was a state champion in the long jump, captain of the track team and school record holder in the long jump with a jump of 23’3″ which also ranked No. 3 nationally.
He was awarded an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas where he was a four-year letterman in track, captain of the track team in 1955 and school record holder in the long jump with 24’7 1/2″. He was also a member of the Indoor and Outdoor Conference Championship teams all four years. These were the glory years of Kansas University Track & Field. He received his Bachelor of Science degree and his Masters degree in Science; both in the field of Education, from the University of Kansas.
After graduation in 1955, he served a short stint in the United States Marine Corps. He also competed while in the Marine Corps, winning the All Service Meet in the Triple Jump with a jump of 49’10 1/2″ which was the third-best jump in the nation 1952 qualifying for the Olympic Trials
He started and finished his teaching and coaching career of 30 years at the Center School District, 1956 to 1986. During these years, he coached football, basketball and track. As a head coach, his teams won 20 Suburban Conference Championships in football and indoor and outdoor track.
He also served as District Director of Athletics and Physical Education for 18 years, 1968 to 1986. During his 30 years in education he served the Missouri State High School Activities Association in various positions – as a member of the State Football Advisory Committee, the State Track & Field Advisory Committee and as a State Rules Interpreter. He also served as district manager in basketball, wrestling and track & field contests, hosted the State Track Meet at Center in 1976 and served as State Meet Referee for all classes, both boys and girls for 32 years. As a result of his services, he was awarded the MSHSAA Distinguished Service Award for Serving the Youth of Missouri, the MSHSAA Distinguished Service Award for Officiating and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Federation of High School Activities. In 1996 he was elected to the Missouri Hall of Fame for Track & Field Coaches.
After retirement from Center School District in 1986, he started his own business with his wife, Cindy. The first products were his inventions of the Dial-A-Down and Pro-Down football down markers. In all he had six patented products including the protective high school discus cage which was sold to over 50 percent of the nation’s high schools. Another product was the golf practice cage sold by Sam’s Clubs nationwide. In 1999 he sold the last of his business and retired for good.
He leaves to join his wife Cindy who passed in 2001. He also leaves his friend and companion Marie Maupin; son Lance of Kansas City; step-son Chris Arnold, his wife Jenn and two children Chace and Brooke of Overland Park; sister Katherine Meeks and her husband Babe of Abilene, Texas, and many nephews and nieces plus a whole bus load of middle-aged men that helped make his life a very happy and enjoyable one.